Foundations of Science

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 379–384 | Cite as

Separability and Technical Constitution

  • Charles Lenay


The question of the status and the mode of functioning of technologies which participate in our cognitive activity (action, perception, reasoning) is inseparable from the question of the bodily inscription of these faculties. One can adopt the principle that a tool is fully appropriate when it functions as a component of the organs of our lived body. However, these technical entities can be differentiated along a scale according to the role played by their separability. The possibility of picking up and putting down a hammer, a pair of spectacles, an agenda is part of the meaning of these tools. When they are “in hand”, they become transparent for the subject and serve in the constitution of his lived experience. Put down, they can be transmitted, modified, received. According to the frequency of the transition picking up/putting down, the tool can be picked up while anticipating that it can just as quickly put down again (the mouse of a computer, cutlery at table, an agenda, …). At the other extreme, another sort of tool functions rather as a prosthetic device that is taken up with the prospect of remaining attached to the body for a long time (an artificial leg, spectacles, clothes, …). This differentiation of technologies along a continuum which depends on forms of use seems to us sufficient to distinguish extension and embodiment.


Embodiment Incorporation Appropriation Sensory subtitution Separability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Derrida, J. (1989). Edmund Husserl’s origin of geometry: An introduction (J. P. Leavey, Jr., Trans.). Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press. (L’Origine de la géométrie / Edmund Husserl; trad. et intr. / Jacques Derrida.- PUF, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. De Preester H. (2011) Technology and the body: the (im)possibilities of re-embodiment. Foundations of Science 16(2–3): 119–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Goody J. (1977) The domestication of the savage mind. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Husserl E. (1989) Origin of geometry. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln & LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Lenay, C., Declerck, G., Gapenne, O., Maillet, B., Stewart, J., & Thouvenin, I. (2008). Technical mediation of sensorimotor coupling : A minimalist approach. In Proceedings of ENACTIVE08 5th international conference on enactive interfaces, pp. 36–41.Google Scholar
  6. Leroi-Gourhan, A. (1965). Gesture and speech (A. B. Berger, Trans.). Hardcover, May 1993.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UTC (Compiègne University of Technology)–COSTECHCompiègneFrance

Personalised recommendations